PowerPlant - The King of Protein

By Jon Cooner

By now, most folks know that protein is among the most critical nutrients for deer. That’s why the Whitetail Institute has spent the last twenty years working on increasing and improving the protein content in its forage products. To provide deer with all the protein they need right when they need it the most, you need look no further than Imperial PowerPlant. It truly is the king of Protein.
As we discuss protein and PowerPlant, let’s keep in mind that there are really only three keys to growing better deer. First, recognize what you can change and what you can’t. Second, focus on the things you can change — the variables. Third, once you have identified the variables, use the best tools available to get the greatest results from them.
Now, let’s look at each key in a greater detail.


Some of the factors involved in the antler-growing process are relatively fixed. Let’s run down a few of these and get them out of the way so that we can focus on other things, specifically the variables we can change.

Age: Most folks know by now deer don’t grow their largest antlers until they are mature. If you want to increase the odds of seeing bigger racks on your property, you have to let the young bucks walk. We can’t change the fact that a buck won’t grow his biggest set of antlers until he matures.

Genetics: Improving the genetics of free-ranging deer is a difficult and time consuming prospect at best. If the deer in your area have the potential to grow a maximum of 150-class racks, they’ll never grow 200-class racks. Except for the occasional freak, deer genetics in a given area simply are what they are.

Percentage Protein Content of Antlers: The percentage protein content of antlers is also pretty uniform from antler to antler. Visible antler growth begins with the formation of the velvet antler, a soft, living structure that consists of about 80 percent collagen, a protein. Once the velvet antler is grown, minerals are then deposited on the velvet antler, eventually leaving only the hard, “mineralized” antler, which consists of about 55 percent minerals and 45 percent protein. If you chose any antler to analyze, these are about the percentages you’d find.

Protein Requirements and Shortfalls of Spring and Summer: It is generally recognized that bucks need about 16 percent protein in their diets, does about 18 percent and fawns up to 20 percent or more, some of which of course they get from doe milk. In contrast, , most natural forages are around 7-10 percent protein, and in some cases only 3 percent or lower. And, if the low protein content of many natural food sources wasn’t bad enough, native forages are often of limited palatability and availability to deer. Many quickly become too stemmy for deer to utilize, and availability starts to decline in summer in many areas. Certainly, the nutritional quality of natural forages can be improved, but rarely enough to provide all the protein deer need to “max out” and do so with superior attractiveness and palatability on a sustained basis throughout the entire antler-growing period.


Now that you’ve identified and accepted the things in the nutritional antler-growth equation that you can’t change, you’re ready to take the next step in really improving the quality of the deer you hunt: identifying the variables that offer maximum potential returns and putting your efforts there.

When it comes to nutritional variables that you can change, none is more important than making up natural protein shortfalls of spring and summer. Spring and summer is when protein requirements are at their peak for the entire herd. Does are in the later stages of pregnancy, and later, they are producing milk for their newborn fawns. This coincides with the antler-growing period for bucks. Since the natural forages of spring and summer rarely provide enough sustained protein to allow deer to do much more than survive and reproduce, we have to find a way to make up the shortfall if we want to push deer farther toward the limits of their genetic potential.

With our goal now clearly defined, our next step is to find the best tool to meet that goal. The identity of the best spring/summer annual blend for delivering massive levels of high-protein forage to deer is clear. It’s PowerPlant. And, here’s why:


Choosing the right tool for a particular job is not unique to food-plot blends. It’s the same thought process we use every day in choosing what tool to use for any job. For instance, let’s say that you needed to re-roof your garage, and to do the job, you are offered a choice of either a standard carpentry hammer or a roofing hammer. Both are hammers, but you’d probably select the roofing hammer. Why? You know that you can do a much better job with it because its features are specifically designed for that particular job. And that’s why PowerPlant is the best forage tool for bombing your deer with protein during the spring and summer. Like the roofing hammer, PowerPlant is specifically designed to accomplish the job at hand.

And really, that’s the same way you should evaluate any spring/summer forage blend — you should determine whether or not it is specifically designed to meet the goal of supplementing natural protein shortfalls of spring and summer for deer.

How well a spring/summer annual can be expected to meet that goal — to perform that specific job — is actually pretty easy to evaluate up front. To “do the job,” it must perform well in three ways. First, it must be highly productive — it must deliver massive amounts of protein. Second, it must be highly attractive and palatable to deer. Third, deer must feel safe using it.

And it must do all three to get the job done. For example, let’s say you planted a spring/summer forage that provided a lot of protein. But, let’s also say that it quickly became stemmy and unpalatable to deer, or that it died as soon as deer started eating it. Even if a forage provides high protein, it is of limited value as an antler-building tool if that protein doesn’t get into your deer’s bodies on a sustained basis throughout the spring and summer. That’s why PowerPlant is so superior. It excels in all three areas, and it does so with a vengeance.

Let’s look at why PowerPlant is the king of spring/summer forage blends on all counts. 

PowerPlant Delivers Massive Amounts of Protein: If you want your deer to have more protein, then the first obvious requirement for the tool you select is that it must contain high levels of protein. PowerPlant does. PowerPlant contains soybeans, forage beans such as LabLab and forage peas, which provide massive levels of high-protein foliage throughout the spring and summer. And when I say, “massive,” I mean it. Even unsolicited, independent university studies have confirmed that PowerPlant delivers more tonnage than any other competing product tested.

PowerPlant is Specifically Designed for Deer: One major reason for PowerPlant’s superiority is the specialized nature of its forage components. Unlike products that rely on agricultural plant varieties to provide forage, the forage beans and peas in PowerPlant include true forage varieties. That’s what makes PowerPlant the roofing hammer of spring/summer annuals and gives it such a critical advantage over other spring/summer blends. 

Deer Feel Safe Using PowerPlant: Remember that our goal in planting spring/summer annuals is to get large quantities of protein into our deer on a sustained basis during the spring and summer. Also, remember that a product has to do three things well in order to accomplish that goal? Even if a spring/summer annual is high in protein, highly attractive and palatable, and graze-tolerant, it still won’t be of much use unless deer feel safe using it. That’s one of the reasons plot location and structure are so important when planting other types of food plots. PowerPlant, though, is unique in that it brings its own feeling of safety with it — that’s also a feature of the product.

PowerPlant is designed to grow into a thick mass of high-protein forage as tall as five to six feet. It’s able to do so because of the structural plants we added to the blend. In addition to its excellent forage components, PowerPlant includes small amounts of sunflowers and a high-quality wildlife sorghum, which establish quickly and create a lattice for the forage plants to climb as they grow. Our Field Testers regularly report that they jump deer out of their PowerPlant plots, because deer use PowerPlant not only as a food source but also as a bedding area.


Now that you’ve chosen the best possible tool to meet natural protein shortfalls during the spring and summer, you may wonder how best to use it. PowerPlant is suitable for a broad variety of applications, alone or used as part of a food-plot system in conjunction with other Imperial food plots. In a nutshell, you are limited only by your imagination. What if you’re in an area where the summer climate is too hot or dry for optimum growth of Imperial Whitetail Clover, or even Alfa-Rack Plus? PowerPlant can be a great option in such cases, often tolerating hotter, drier conditions quite well if it receives some rain during the first few weeks after planting. The key in such situations is to plant early enough to take advantage of the last rains of spring and early summer. (But don’t plant too early — never plant PowerPlant in cool, damp soils or when any danger of another spring frost still exists.).

And what if you’re as guilty as the rest of us have been from time to time in putting off your spring planting so long that you’ve allowed your spring perennial planting dates to pass? Once again, PowerPlant is a great solution, since its planting dates start slightly later than the spring planting dates for other Imperial blends. PowerPlant remains highly productive, attractive and palatable from spring through the summer and, in most areas, well into the fall. In fact, PowerPlant is designed to perform well all the way until the first frosts of fall arrive.

That makes an excellent hunting-plot forage for early deer season in most areas. And, even when frosts do arrive, that still doesn’t mean that your PowerPlant is done for the year. Here are a few tips for keeping your plot productive, attractive and nutritious all the way through the fall and winter. One way you can extend the active life of your plot further into the fall and winter is by replanting all or part of it in an Imperial blend designed for fall. If you decide to replant the entire plot, consider disking the PowerPlant in as part of your seedbed preparation. It is quite common in such cases for the beans and peas from the PowerPlant to germinate and grow into a cover crop for new fall forage. If you elect to till your standing PowerPlant into the soil, it can often be a good idea to mow it down a week or two beforehand. PowerPlant is extremely thick, and allowing the clippings to dry on top of the ground for a week or so can make it a lot easier to till in.

And, I’ll pass along some great tips I learned from our Field Testers. First, instead of completely replanting your PowerPlant plot in the fall, consider just creating narrow lanes through it. Cut the lanes straight out from a downwind stand site through the PowerPlant, and plant those lanes in Imperial No Plow, Pure Attraction orWinter-Greens. When I tried it myself, I found that especially during the early hunting season, deer bedded in the PowerPlant stepped into and out of the lanes to stretch and feed all through the day.

Also, what if your land has areas of thick cover separated by fields or other open areas? Field Testers regularly report that they create funnels in such situations with PowerPlant. By planting PowerPlant across the open areas to connect the thick areas, you can provide deer with the sort of tall, thick cover that can help them feel safer as they cross the fields. That can help you pattern your deer and do a more precise job of selecting stand sites.


PowerPlant is easy to plant. Test the soil in early spring once the ground begins to thaw. Soil testing is always an important step anytime you’re preparing to plant a forage, and with PowerPlant you’ll still have plenty of time before your planting dates arrive. Once you get your results, add lime to the seedbed in the recommended amount and disk it thoroughly into the seedbed. Then, smooth the plot with a drag or roller. Again, you should have plenty of time to do this between spring thaw and the beginning of the PowerPlant planting dates for your area. Once the planting dates for your area arrive, broadcast your fertilizer onto the surface of the seedbed, and lightly harrow it in. Then, broadcast your PowerPlant. Cover the seed loosely with a thin layer of soil. A great way to cover the seed properly is to make one pass over it using an ATV with a fence-type drag harrow with the teeth pointing down. Keep your speed low, and only pass over the seed once. If you pass over it multiple times or too quickly, you risk flipping the covered seed back up and onto the surface of the plot.

It is critical to be sure that all danger of frost has passed before planting PowerPlant. That’s why our published planting dates for PowerPlant are later than the spring planting dates for other Imperial forage blends. This can be a real blessing in areas where excessive weed and grass competition is a problem. The ground in some areas of the country is heavily infested with dormant weed and grass seeds just waiting for a hard-working food plotter to come along and till the soil. Tilling can bring these dormant invaders to the surface where they can sprout and grow.

Since natural green-up in many areas starts well before the planting dates for PowerPlant, a planter who expects unusually bad competition from grass or weeds can prepare his seedbed early, allow grass and weeds to start to grow again, and then spray the seedbed with RoundUp a few weeks before planting. And since it’s often possible to spray returning grass and weeds a few weeks before the PowerPlant planting dates even start, spraying first usually doesn’t cause much of a planting delay, if any.

Again, spraying before planting is neither mandatory nor even necessary in most cases, but again, it can be a good move if you think you might have a high concentration of grass and weed invasion. A 50-pound bag of PowerPlant will plant between 1-1/2 and two acres. In areas of high deer densities, plant 50 pounds per 1-1/2 acres. In spite of its prolific growth, even PowerPlant can be overgrazed if subjected to extreme pressure in its very early stages of growth. In places where that might be a problem, plant larger areas and plant early (but again, not until you are certain your last frosts have passed).

PowerPlant has continued to impress our customers, the public and independent university researchers ever since its introduction. If you’re looking for a spring/summer forage that will deliver the most tonnage of high-protein forage available and do so on a sustained basis, look no further than PowerPlant — the king of Protein.

What you need to knowabout PowerPlant >>>>>>>>>>>>

• Legume-based spring/summer annual food plot planting

• Designed for planting alone or as a companion to Imperial perennials and other Imperial annuals

• Provides growth-enhancing protein and forage diversity

• Blend of three legumes, including forage beans such as LabLab and forage peas for prolific forage growth

• Combined with fast-growing structural plants which maximize tonnage, help protect legumes from over-grazing and provide other wildlife food sources

• Rapid establishment

• Easy to plant

• More tonnage per acre than other spring/summer annuals

• Provides exceptional bedding cover for deer and brood habitat for turkeys